What A Person Wants (Extended Excerpt)

            “Mama, maybe this is a sign telling you to leave Petey alone,” I said as my mother slammed her cordless phone on its cradle for the millionth time since I arrived.  Well, actually, it was the twelfth time in the last half hour.

            “Look, Izzy,” my mother said to me as though I was five-years-old.  Her voice may have wavered on maternal, but her expression read “I’m about to hurt somebody.” Like a highly pissed off bull, her nostrils flared out, and her mouth twisted into a deep frown. When she spoke, it was almost like a snarl. I could not remember ever seeing my mom this livid. “Petey is my man.  We have had over five years together.  I’m not about to let one of these trifling, ghetto females mess that up!”

            I rolled my eyes. “Correction, Mama: They have been five painful years.  Why would you want to hold onto something that’s not good for you? This shit isn’t healthy.”

            My mother whirled around and gave me a stern glower.  Even at age twenty-seven,  I still cast my eyes down whenever she gave me that look, just like I did when I was little.

            “First of all, Isabel, Petey and I may have had our troubles in the past, but he loves me. Do you understand that? He loves me. That’s not gonna change.  You don’t know what it’s like to have a man love you like Petey loves me.  I need to hold onto that.  So what if he slipped up in the past and slept with another female? She don’t have nothing on me.  He comes home to me. At the end of the day, I’m his woman.  That’s what matters.”

            I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Not only was I getting even angrier at my mother’s naivety, but also I started to feel sorry for her.  She had been treated like crap for years by so many people that she didn’t even realize her potential. She could do so much better than what she settled for.  Mama had always been a smart and beautiful woman.  Any man she wanted, she could have. A good man. Petey wasn’t worth the spit in my mouth, and deep down inside I knew she knew that, but hearing her talk like a love struck fifteen-year-old girl just broke my heart.

            The phone rang again.  I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ran into the kitchen to give the bitch on the other end a piece of my mind.  I may disagree with my mother on a lot of things but I’d be damned if I allowed someone to disrespect her in my presence.

            My mother saw me heading for the phone and beat me into the small kitchen.  She grabbed the cordless phone off the wall before I could touch it and said, “What is it?”

            I could easily hear a female voice leaking through the phone receiver calling my mom every name in the book  except “saint” despite the fact that I was a few feet away. The caller was that loud. 

            The situation was getting out of control. Instead of my silly mother hanging up the phone and ignoring this dumb woman on the other end, she continued to listen. Though she didn’t say anything immediately, I could see her face getting tighter by the second. It wouldn’t be long before her fury broke. I had to do something.

            I mouthed to my mother, “Hang up the phone,” but she wouldn’t listen to me. She was too busy listening to the other woman.  So instead of staying quiet, I got loud.

            “Mother, hang up the phone. Now!”

            “Look, bitch, I don’t know what you’re used to or who you think I am, but you keep talking shit to me and I’m gonna make you regret every little thing you say,” my mother said to the nameless woman. Yep, the dam was breaking and her Christianity was quickly washing away.

            “Mom, you need to hang up the phone.  Don’t feed into that.  That’s what she wants.” I tried to grab the phone from my mother, but she pushed me to the side like a rag doll.  Oh hell no. My mother seldom put her hands on me as a child and never since I was an adult.  I didn’t like where this was going.  Especially since I had overheard the woman on the other end of the call say she was on her way to the house to whoop my mother’s ass. 

            That was it for me.  I grabbed my mother around her waist as she began yelling random expletives into the phone and snatched the handset away from her.  I pressed “end” and tossed the phone onto the dining room table.

            “What the hell are you doing?” my mother yelled in my face.  I couldn’t remember the last time she was like this.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this.  Her pretty dark brown eyes were bloodshot from crying and her face was so red it looked swollen.  “What the hell are you doing?” she repeated.

            “Why are you stooping to their level?” I yelled back to her.  Now I was getting heated.  I didn’t plan on this shit.  I just came over for a quick mother/daughter visit before I headed to the movies with Richie. “Why are you acting like a goddamn child? You are forty-five years old.  Petey isn’t worth all this fuckin’ drama! Let those silly women have him!”

            My mother stormed past me as she headed upstairs. She damn near knocked me over as she went by.  If it wasn’t for the wall behind me I would’ve been on the floor, but I doubt she would’ve bothered to glance back had I fallen.

            “You don’t know shit, Izzy.  If she tries to come over here, I’ll be ready for her. That ain’t a problem.”

            I watched my mother rush upstairs and slam her bedroom door.  After so many years of being a parent to my mother when it came to worthless men, I was beyond tired of it.  She should be giving me relationship advice, not the other way around.  The trouble really started five ago when she met Petey’s ignorant ass.  I didn’t like him to begin with, but now I had no respect for him whatsoever.  Since we never uttered more than two words to each other when in the same room, I guess it’s safe to say the feelings were mutual.  It didn’t matter, though.  My mother may have her faults, but she didn’t deserve to be disrespected in her own home.  We don’t know this woman from Adam and since she was so bold to say she would come to my mother’s house to fight, I thought it was highly unlikely she would show up alone.

            Thinking I would need some help, I picked up my cell phone from the coffee table and dialed my best friend’s number. Tara didn’t live too far from my mom, but I had to abandon the idea of her coming over to help once her voicemail picked up.

             Not knowing who else to call, I dialed Richie’s number.  I prayed he would answer even though I didn’t really know what I would tell him.  “Pick up, pick up,” I whispered as the phone rang.     

            “Hey, babe,” Richie said.

            I exhaled in a rush of relief and said, “Hey Richie.  Listen, um, where are you?”    

            “I just left my office, headed home.  What’s up? What’s wrong?” 

            I didn’t even know what to say.  I wanted to tell him to come over and rescue me, take me away from this ridiculous drama.  But why would he? He didn’t have anything to do with me or my suddenly crazy mother. 

            “I think I might need you to come over to my mom’s house, like, right now.”

            Richie was immediately worried.  “Why? What’s the matter?  Is she okay?”

            “Well,” I started.  I could hear my mom cussing someone out upstairs.  Apparently, she got back on the phone again.  This time, I didn’t even try to interfere.  It already proved pointless.

            “Well,” I repeated, “I think some woman my mom’s boyfriend is cheating with is trying to come over here and start some drama.  She’s upstairs right now getting ready to meet this woman outside.  She’s not listening to me.  I don’t know if I should be worried or what.”

            Richie didn’t waste any time asking questions.  He simply said, “I’m on my way,” and that was the end of the conversation.  It was just in the nick of time, too.  I heard a car pull up to the front of the apartment. 

            I rushed to the front window and looked out hoping I didn’t see some random females armed with baseball bats coming up the walk.  I was relieved to see that it wasn’t them, but disturbed to see that it was Petey’s little girl, Sabrina.  She was about ten-years-old and technically lived with Petey, but my mom kept her most days because her sorry excuse for a father always had something more important to do.  What could be more important than spending time with your child? I don’t know, but since my mom had a big heart and looked at Sabrina as another daughter, she took it upon herself to play “mommy” with this little one.  Not that I resented it.  Sabrina was a good child, but a part of me wished my mother did for me all the things she did for this kid who’s not even from her own flesh. That’s the drawback of having a young mother, I guess.

            I flung the front door open as Sabrina walked up slinging her overstuffed book bag on her arm.  I heard my mom fussing again.  All sense of her Christianity was long gone.

            Sabrina heard the commotion as she walked through the door.  “What’s going on with Mama?”  She frowned her brow.

            I stifled my fleeting jealousy. “Nothing.  Mom’s just a little upset. Why don’t you go upstairs and get your homework done?”

            The little girl immediately protested. “But it’s Friday.  Mama never makes me do homework on Friday. Why can’t I go outside and play, Izzy?  Is Mama upset with me?”

            I wanted to say, “She ain’t your mama” but instead I replied, “Well, Brina like I said, Mom is just a little upset. It’s not anything you did, honey, but I need you to go upstairs to your room for a few minutes. Then you can go outside and play for a while.”

            The last thing I wanted to do was put this little girl outside of the house and have some simple, ghetto females pop up with unnecessary trouble. I didn’t want Sabrina to see them fighting her “mama.”  I prayed to God that I was blowing everything out of proportion, but something kept nagging me about the whole situation.  I hoped Richie would get here soon. Lord knows I could use the reinforcements.

            “Izzy, I want a snack.  Can you get me something? Please?”

            I looked at the little girl like she had lost her mind.  I could’ve sworn I just told her to go upstairs and play in her room for a while.  I knew it wasn’t fair to take out my frustrations on her, so I kept my mouth shut and walked into the kitchen.  I heard my mom fumbling around in her room again the same time I heard a car door slam.  Oh, that’s gotta be Rich, I thought.  Quickly, I grabbed a Capri Sun and small bag of mini Oreos from the kitchen and shoved them into Brina’s hands as I ushered her upstairs.  I had to move a little faster, though, once I caught a glimpse of the front driveway through the open living room window. 

It wasn’t Rich.


Meet Isabel, a twenty-something woman with the world on her shoulders and a simple desire: to be happy. Between her struggling ambitions, constant worrying about her love-struck mother, an absentee fiance, and the vindictive ex of a close friend, Isabel’s one desire seems far out of reach…Or is it?

Read more about Isabel in my upcoming debut novel What A Person Wants.

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